Six estate agencies have been expelled from membership of The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme after collectively failing to pay awards totalling £11,834.
TPO expulsion comes too late for the tenants, buyers, sellers and landlords involved in the cases, though. All of the firms involved have ceased trading and five are in liquidation and, therefore, those owed money are unlikely to the awards paid to them.
The largest unpaid award, concerning SSM2 Limited trading as Samuel Makepeace Bespoke Estate Agents in Stoke on Trent, is for £5,000.
A buyer who bought a property through the estate agency later found that a ‘third bedroom’ in the loft did not comply with building safety regulations.
The firms involved are:
- Flat Sharing Ltd trading as Flintos in East London – £250 unpaid award.
- SSM2 Ltd in Stoke on Trent – £5,000.
- Barrington & Blake Estates Ltd in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire – £300 unpaid award.
- Sam Allan Estates Ltd in Morpeth, Cumbria – £500 unpaid award.
Ronald Davis & Co Ltd in Crystal Palace, South London – £1,204 unpaid award.
- Target Estates Ltd in Romford, Essex – £350 unpaid award.
- Olive Branch Estates Ltd in Tonbridge, Kent – £1,400 unpaid award.
- Residential Asset Management Ltd in Barkingside, Ilford – £2,830 unpaid award.
The range of disputes is wide and includes delays returning deposits, poor service, referencing failures, unpaid rent, over-charging of fees and poor maintenance.
All of the companies expelled from TPO have been reported to Trading Standards and, because they have also been expelled from TPO’s redress scheme, and cannot now join another, they would be trading illegally if they were to try and operate once more.
“Cases like these are rare, with only 0.1% of all TPO agents being referred to the Compliance Committee and 98% of agents paying awards that are made,” says Gerry Fitzjohn (left), Non-Executive Director and Chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee.